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Siddhartha (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) d edition Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0142437186
ISBN-10: 0142437182
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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2012 Fifty Books/Fifty Covers show, organized by Design Observer in association with AIGA and Designers & Books

Winner of the 2014 Type Directors Club Communication Design Award

Praise for Penguin Drop Caps:

"[Penguin Drop Caps] convey a sense of nostalgia for the tactility and aesthetic power of a physical book and for a centuries-old tradition of beautiful lettering."
Fast Company

“Vibrant, minimalist new typographic covers…. Bonus points for the heartening gender balance of the initial selections.”
—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

"The Penguin Drop Caps series is a great example of the power of design. Why buy these particular classics when there are less expensive, even free editions of Great Expectations? Because they’re beautiful objects. Paul Buckley and Jessica Hische’s fresh approach to the literary classics reduces the design down to typography and color. Each cover is foil-stamped with a cleverly illustrated letterform that reveals an element of the story. Jane Austen’s A (Pride and Prejudice) is formed by opulent peacock feathers and Charlotte Bronte’s B (Jane Eyre) is surrounded by flames. The complete set forms a rainbow spectrum prettier than anything else on your bookshelf."
—Rex Bonomelli, The New York Times


"Classic reads in stunning covers—your book club will be dying."

About the Author

In the 1960s, especially in the United States, the novels of Hermann Hesse were widely embraced by young readers who found in his protagonists a reflection of their own search for meaning in a troubled world. Hesse’s rich allusions to world mythologies, especially those of Asia, and his persistent theme of the individual striving for integrity in opposition to received opinions and mass culture appealed to a generation in upheaval and in search of renewed values.

Born in southern Germany in 1877, Hesse came from a family of missionaries, scholars, and writers with strong ties to India. This early exposure to the philosophies and religions of Asia—filtered and interpreted by thinkers thoroughly steeped in the intellectual traditions and currents of modern Europe—provided Hesse with some of the most pervasive elements in his short stories and novels, especially Siddhartha (1922) and Journey to the East (1932).

Hesse concentrated on writing poetry as a young man, but his first successful book was a novel,Peter Camenzind (1904). The income it brought permitted him to settle with his wife in rural Switzerland and write full-time. By the start of World War I in 1914, Hesse had produced several more novels and had begun to write the considerable number of book reviews and articles that made him a strong influence on the literary culture of his time.

During the war, Hesse was actively involved in relief efforts. Depression, criticism for his pacifist views, and a series of personal crises—combined with what he referred to as the “war psychosis” of his times—led Hesse to undergo psychoanalysis with J. B. Lang, a student of Carl Jung. Out of these years came Demian (1919), a novel whose main character is torn between the orderliness of bourgeois existence and the turbulent and enticing world of sensual experience. This dichotomy is prominent in Hesse’s subsequent novels, including Siddhartha (1922), Steppenwolf (1927), and Narcissus and Goldmund (1930). Hesse worked on his magnum opus, The Glass Bead Game (1943), for twelve years. This novel was specifically cited when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. Hesse died at his home in Switzerland in 1962.

Calling his life a series of “crises and new beginnings,” Hesse clearly saw his writing as a direct reflection of his personal development and his protagonists as representing stages in his own evolution. In the 1950s, Hesse described the dominant theme of his work: “From Camenzind to Steppenwolf and Josef Knecht [protagonist of The Glass Bead Game], they can all be interpreted as a defense (sometimes also as an SOS) of the personality, of the individual self.” 

Joachim Neugroschel has won three PEN translation awards and the French-American translation prize. He has also translated Thomas Mann's Death in Venice and Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs, both for Penguin Classics. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Ralph Freedman, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, is acclaimed for his biographies Hermann Hesse: Pilgrim of Crisis, and Life of a Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; d edition edition (December 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142437182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142437186
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Siddhartha is both a western and eastern tale. Though it was written by a westerner, it has the soul and power of an ancient eastern myth. It is at once a timeless story and one that the reader will wish to continually revisit at different phases in his or her life.

Hesse does a remarkable job in capturing the tone, cadence and moral complexity of ancient Indian religious stories. His "revisionist" take on the life of Buddha is at once fresh and familiar to anyone who has read the sermons of the Buddha or who has studied ancient Hinduism and Buddhism. The themes of self-doubt, denial, asceticism and spiritual rejuvenation are both profoundly and cleverly handled in Hesse's superb narrative. In many ways, this is a book that serves as a summation, and improvement on, all of the religious texts one has read. The fictional aspect allows Hesse to interweave common literary devices, such as heroic journeys and coming-of-age revelations, to make the text, as a whole, much stronger and more impacting than a dry sermon.

Siddhartha's narrative works as a cycle, with each chapter offering commentary on the vices and victories of mankind and the ultimate futility of the material world. Like the river that Siddhartha comes to love, the book flows, and never missteps or hesitates in reaching remarkable insights into the nature and philosophy of humanity.

This is a book that will stay with the reader for a lifetime. Its simple structure belies a greater complexity; be sure that this book leaves the reader with no easy answers, but it is sure to inspire thought and joy.

*A note on translations:
-For readability, flow and consistency, I find the Joachim Neugroschel translation to be the best of the many options.
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Format: Hardcover
Maybe I'm a bit slow on the uptake, but when I first saw the Drop Cap series I was confused about what the point was. In case you're wondering too, it's a handsome way to organize your library--yes, your physical library (you'll notice no digital edition here.) And the assumption is to choose books that every reader would want in their library. Now that I get it, it's a clever idea well executed.

That said, I have some doubts about some of the Penguin choices for letters, but NOT for this book. Siddhartha is one of many favorite books of all time. I have read or listened to it at least three times. Happily, Penguin has chosen an excellent translation, which flows well, is consistent, lyrical, and gets the wisdom of Hesse's words. I haven't read all the translations, but I'm happy to report Joachim Neugroschel's as an excellent one.

So if you're looking to organize your library in a fun way or don't own a copy of Siddhartha, this is an excellent edition to get. And if not this edition, if you haven't already, do yourself a favor and read Siddhartha.
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Format: Paperback
Seriously, if you're gonna read Siddhartha, this is certainly the edition to get -- the slightly oversized Penguin Classics one.

It features a useful (35-page!) introduction by Ralph Freedman, which includes suggestions for further reading.

The translation by Joachim Neugroschel -- a new one -- also reads swiftly and naturally.

There are no footnotes for the text itself, however.
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Format: Paperback
Herman Hesse's Siddhartha poeticizes the truth-seeking endeavors of a protagonist who overthrows convention and becomes more religious. Ultimately, Siddhartha abandons Brahmin, ascetic, and materialistic pursuits. Siddhartha's eventual enlightenment, by crystalizing his conversion journey, mirrors Hesse's Western perspective - which revels in the vital role of individualism in achieving religious fulfillment. Siddhartha expresses that regardless of a person's past sins or social status, any person can have a continued personal experience or an embodied understanding of his or her role in the world. Across a Buddhist, Hindu, post-World War I, philosophically-vibrant, and Western canvas, the nearly-biographical story paints a final deeply intimate connection with an immaterial force.

Herman Hesse's Siddhartha is a portrait of a man seeking self-knowledge and in the process; he is seeking a new transcendental, universal, and spiritual framework that is communal in content and individual in conquest. Ultimately, Siddhartha's humbleness, awareness and empathy -coupled with his escape from materialistic misery- enable him to attain an enlightened lifestyle, a unity with the universe, and an entrance into a greater community of humanity. This fulfillment is the result of independent seeking and living, as well as the mastery of collective Brahmin, ascetic, and practical teachings. The story imbues the Western notion of self-teaching. Siddhartha becomes more religious, as a result of the author's introspection. Hesse's individual spiritual success creates an inspired literary piece that compels readers to attempt to either establish or appreciate a continued personal experience or an embodied understanding of his or her role in the world.
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Format: Paperback
A couple of years ago my nephew encouraged me to read Siddhartha.
I kept putting it off until last week when I finally read the book, given to me as a gift. I now know why it's considered a classic in the genre of books about spiritual discovery.
I expected it to be daunting for some reason -- as though it would be too Buddhisty for me. But it ended up being very accessible, and written in a simple, straightforward way. It's the story of the young Nepalese boy Siddhartha, who decides to leave his family and home to become a "samana" or wandering ascetic. He sets out with his best friend Govinda into this life of renunciation and contemplation, and when they meet the actual Buddha guy, Govinda's zeal is strengthened, while Siddhartha begins to have second thoughts about it all. He questions some of the finer points of the Buddha's teachings -- primarily the seeming contradiction of how the alleged unity of all things is coupled with the need to renounce most of these things in order to reach inner wholeness or "nirvana".
So the boys part ways at this juncture, and Siddhartha sets out on his quest, freestyle. Soon he meets the perfect-10 courtesan Kamala, the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Need I say more? This radically adjusts some of his former thoughts about sexual abstinence, among other things. Like wealth. Success. Fine clothes, booze, etc. Mostly to pay for his dealings with Kamala, he acquires wealth, discovering a special avarice for gambling. But again, disillusionment sets in.
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